As the 21st century enters a new year, the dramatic rise in wealth of the Chinese population continues. Latest figures indicate the number of billionaires in China has jumped from 85 in 2006 to 146 in 2007. The number of millionaires has continued its steady rise and now constitutes 3.3% of the entire population. China is experiencing a phenomenon that happened in other nations. The gap between those at the upper end of the economic scale has widened from those at the bottom or in the middle class. The emergence of a powerful economic class undoubtedly will have impact on future government power relations. At some point in the coming decade wealthier people will be demanding greater influence in government and will have economic resources to back up their desires for power.
One can only wonder as the economic divide widens whether or not there will emerge in China a populist reform movement to address issues of poverty. It would be possible for an unscrupulous political leader to seize upon economic disparity in order to arouse public furor. Democracy eventually will emerge in China as the economy booms.